Chelsea Callan has run hundreds of miles in her 27 years.
She competed in high school, ran mid-distance at Rider University and has participated in several races since graduating.
Never had she broken tape.
But after an early morning scare in which she forgot her race bib, Callan finally accomplished her longtime goal. She crossed the finish line at the Long Island Marathon’s women’s half marathon in 1 hour, 26 minutes and 40 seconds, beating the competition and breaking the tape.
“I’ve always wanted to break tape,” said Callan, who lives in Westfield, New Jersey. “I’ve won local races but never gotten to run through that tape. It’s really exciting.”
Callan said she led for most of the race.
“I knew I was in the lead early on,” she said, “but there was a woman right near me so I wasn’t really sure because in a half marathon you get tired so you never know what could happen. It wasn’t until the end when everyone started cheering, ‘Oh, first woman! First woman!’ I knew it was less than a mile and that I had enough left in me to secure the win.”
As she approached the finish line, her boyfriend, Matt Hassett of North Bellmore, awaited her. Hassett, 25, had placed third in the men’s half marathon in 1:16:03.
“I’m happier for her than I am for me,” Hassett said. “I know she’s always wanted to break a finishing tape. I know that’s always been a lifelong goal for her, so I’m so happy to see her so happy.”
Callan and Hassett started dating nearly three years ago, after they met through a mutual friend. Fittingly, it was a running connection — Hassett’s former teammate at Loyola University Maryland, who had joined the Garden State Track Club with Callan.
“We were all hanging out,” Hassett said, “and we hit it off.”
They clearly have at least one common interest.
“He is a big help,” Callan said. “He’s the one who pushes me on those long runs since he’s a fast guy. I can’t run his pace, but he will slow down and really help me on those long runs. It benefits me a lot. I’m grateful.”